Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why Sri Lanka?

                       Stilt fishermen on the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka photo by Mary M Payne

 I have just come back from my adventure of two weeks in Sri Lanka.  I went under the banner of a company called Tell Tale Travel found at "".   We were 9 solo travelers, not including our experienced Sri Lankan guide, Dee who was raised in Britain.   My brother, Dave and I were very pleased to have done it all and to have met such a lovely and amusing bunch of fellow adventurers.   It was everything we could have wished for..... not to say that we aren't tired out.  This was not a "sit in the spa" kind of trip and we will be musing about it for years to come.  

There are a variety of notions that made me choose Sri Lanka as a destination, none of them very logical, perhaps. 

First of all, about thirty years ago , Monsieur and I were invited by a friend of the Maharajah of Jaipur to a royal wedding in India.  As a deposed Maharajah, Bhawani Singh or "Bubbles" as he was called, was able to use his former palace in India for the wedding of his adopted son, Padmanabh's wedding. ..   Monsieur and I along with several of our friends,  made up a small plane of attendees from Britain and America.  

The story of why Bhawani Singh was called Bubbles is a good one.  To celebrate the birth of his first son,  Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II,  had all the fountains at the palace contrived to send up cascades of champagne to mark the happy event.  Thenceforth Bhawani was known as "Bubbles" and it suited nicely as I remember him as a jolly man. 

The wedding that we attended lasted three days and started in New Delhi ending in Jaipur.  We stayed about 10 days in New Delhi and Rajasthan, took in all of the sites including the mogul tombs and immersed ourselves in the magic of India.  

 Our final destination and follow up of the wedding was the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur which had by then been converted by Bubbles into a hotel.   There we met  Gayatri Devi,,  step-mother of "Bubbles".  She was acclaimed in both British and Indian society as a beauty and fashion icon and became political in India.  Unfortunately she was a threat to Mrs Ghandi so she spent some time tucked away in jail to be "out of the running."   You can still find her fascinating biography, A Princess Remembers: The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur, by Gayatri Devi. 

Egg Hoppers, Sri Lanka, Photo by Mary M Payne

Sri Lanka is not India but it has ties to India.   The aboriginal hunter/gatherer people of Sri Lanka, the Veddhas, have been traced back to the Indian mainland by mitochondrial DNA .  So I was almost certain that I would recapture some of the love I had for India by a visit to the land of"Serendib" ( the name that theArab traders used to call the island).  

 Furthermore Sri Lanka until recent times has been closed to tourism.  The most recent reason was the devastating Tsunami of 2004, which left over 30,000 people dead or missing and extensive damage to the island. 

 But even before that event, from 1983 -2009 the country of Sri Lanka had been plagued by a bloody civil war, mainly the Tamil population pitted against the Singhalese. 

 This put Sri Lanka behind other Asian countries in tourism.  But I decided that this was probably not a bad thing for the wilderness nor for an authentic Sri Lankan experience.    (This lack of development in tourism turned out to be a blessing in some instances, and a frustration in others.)

Elephants wild, Sri Lanka Photo by Mary M Payne

A third reason for visiting was that whenever I mentioned an interest in a Sri Lankan trip to others who had visited they always remarked upon how warm and friendly are the Sri Lankan people . 

 Despite a difficult and bloody recent history and relative poverty,  I had a feeling that this forbearance showed the resilience and grace of a people and I hoped to meet some of them.   

                        Fishermen's children at Dutch Bay, Sri Lanka,  Photo by Mary M Payne

P.S.  It has taken me two days to post this as Blogger keeps changing the font to the tiniest. This font remains too large but at least you can read it.  
 I had to jump through hoops to post this one and it is still not right. 


  1. Loved all the pictures and your are a wonderful writer and photographer! You and your brother must have had a wonderful time together!



  2. March 28 at 12:30am

    Mary, loved the blog and photos. Keep them coming.

    Roge P.

  3. What a fantastic blog! Well done.

    Thanks for travelling with Tell Tale Travel

    Best wishes

  4. What a fantastic blog. Well done!

    Thanks for taking a Tell Tale trip.

    Best wishes

    Tell Tale Travel